Market Street refers to two one-way roads within the central business district. One road connects Church Street to Chulia Street, while the other connects Cecil Street to the junction of Cross Street and Robinson Road.1
Market Street was featured in G. D. Coleman’s 1836 Map of the Town and Environs of Singapore, making it one of the older streets of Singapore.2 Historically an enclave of Indian Chettiars who were mostly moneylenders, the street used to be lined with shophouses where the moneylenders operated. A single shophouse was shared by many moneylenders, and each was allocated his own working space within the shophouse. The working space was made up of a raised wooden platform with a seat for the moneylender, a small box where records were kept, and a safe for storing cash. The shophouses were demolished between 1982 and 1983. Besides the Indians, the street was home to the Hokkiens who also worked out of the shophouses. Many Hokkiens still continue to work along this street today as importers, exporters and commission agents.3
The Golden Shoe Carpark occupies an entire side of the Market Street that connects Church Street to Chulia Street.4 Built in 1984,5 the 10-storey building houses corporate offices on the top floor, with shops as well as food-and-beverage establishments on the ground floor.6 In October 2016, the property’s owner announced that the site would be redeveloped as a skyscraper with a height of up to 280 m.7
On the opposite side of the street is Republic Plaza. Designed by Kisho Kurokawa, a leading Japanese architect of the 20th century, the 66-storey, 280-metre-tall commercial property is one of the tallest buildings in Singapore.8
The site of the former Market Street Car Park – at the part of Market Street that connects Cecil Street to the junction of Cross Street and Robinson Road – is presently occupied by CapitaGreen, a 40-storey, 245-metre-tall officer tower completed in December 2014. It was designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito.9
Market Street was referred to as tiong koi in Hokkien and chung kai in Cantonese, both of which mean “Central Street”. This referred to the five ko thau (divisions) historically used by the Hokkiens for the Chingay parade.
It is also known as lau pa sat khau, which translates literally to “old market mouth”, referring to the old Telok Ayer Market (today’s Lau Pa Sat) located at the southern end of Market Street.10
The street was also called Chetty theruvu (Chetty’s street) in Tamil, a reference to the Chettiars that populated the area.11
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
1. Mighty minds street directory. (2014). Singapore: Mighty Minds Publishing Pte Ltd, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
2. Survey Department, Singapore. (1836). Map of the Town and Environs of Singapore [Map accession no. TM000037]. (1836). Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 249. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 249–250. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
4. Mighty minds street directory. (2014). Singapore: Mighty Minds Publishing Pte Ltd, p. 122. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
5. Oei, S. G. (1984, January 20). Golden Shoe carpark ready for use in June. Singapore Monitor, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management Limited. (n.d). Golden Shoe Car Park. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management Limited website: http://www.cct.com.sg/our-properties/singapore/golden-shoe-car-park/
7. Lee, X. E. (2016, October 20). Golden Shoe Carpark building to be redeveloped as office tower. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
8. CDL’s Republic Plaza clinches top international award. (1997, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 51. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; City Developments Limited. (2016). Republic Plaza. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from City Developments Limited website: http://www.cdl.com.sg/app/cdl/diverse_portfolio/commercial/retail/republic_plaza.xml
9. Rashiwala, K. (2015, September 10). 83% committed occupancy at CapitaGreen. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management Limited. (n.d). CapitaGreen. Retrieved 2016, September 23 from CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management Limited website: http://www.cct.com.sg/system/misc/Portfolio_CapitaGreen.pdf
10. Firmstone, H. W. (1905, February). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42, pp. 108-109. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
11. Some Singapore street names. (1934, June 6). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 209–211, 667.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publications, p. 205.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 426, 395, 450, 451.
(Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
Haughton H. T. (1982). Native names of streets in Singapore. In M. Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 years. Singapore: Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 214, 218.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
Lee, S. S. (2003, April 14). Sinsov Building on the block once more. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.